Johns Hopkins University Press

MeDawn wrapped in dull white        gives birth to brilliant light            while the shadows of the night                disappear in mortal fright.                    Oh, what a tragic sight!Damned if that makes me right!        The whole world locked, uptight.            Something in me wants to fight.                In fact, I just might …                    For who knows what is right?

—Henry Tinhorn (Diné)

"Remember Me by My Poems": Introducing Henry Tinhorn

In the late 1960s, hired to teach language arts at the Intermountain Indian School, Alexa West proposed a creative writing class that she described as a course for self-discovery. The school administrators' immediate response was simple: "Indian kids can't write sonnets."1 She persisted and ultimately received approval to incorporate creative writing as part of Intermountain's larger language arts program. West's class was not necessarily unique within the broader scope of boarding school pedagogy. In fact, she became part of a network of boarding school teachers who circulated their students' writings in a journal called the Arrow.2 In a letter exchange with the journal's editor, Terry D. Allen,3 West expressed surprise at the aptitude of her student poets and encouraged Allen to feature their poetry in future Arrow publications. She writes, "I have a very small (10) creative writing class this year with one very bright boy, Henry Tinhorn. … At first when Henry's work started coming in, I was almost dead sure it was plagiarized (see what a suspicious mind I [End Page 25]

Figure 1. Students learning how to write personal letters, 1955–70. Courtesy of Utah State University Special Collections Library.
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Figure 1.

Students learning how to write personal letters, 1955–70. Courtesy of Utah State University Special Collections Library.

have!). However, I haven't been able to trace it to anything else. He really is a bright rebel so I'm almost convinced it is his."4 Beyond West's surprise when confronted with the writings of her Diné (Navajo) student poets, her description of Tinhorn as a "bright rebel" poet highlights the potential of his poetic resistance to the systematic assimilationist agenda of the federal boarding school system.

While West recognized an exceptional energy in Tinhorn's poetry, he describes himself in a way similar to the experience of many Diné youth throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Born into poverty in Arizona, his family moved throughout the Southwest as his father, who served the community as a traditional medicine man, worked for various mining companies to provide for his family of eight children.5 Describing his transient early childhood, Tinhorn writes, "I remember one time during the winter, my father use to take me out in my birthday suit and chop a hole in the pond back of our hogan and make me go in. He told me this would make me tough, but I don't know if it did [End Page 26] any good or not though."6 The family then moved to Dennehotso, Arizona, where his father—like many Diné men of the time—found employment in the neighboring uranium mine. Over the next few years, Tinhorn's father endured a series of radiation-related complications that ultimately took his life when Tinhorn was only ten years old.

In Dennehotso, prior to his father's death, Tinhorn attended a boarding school through the second grade before his parents enrolled him in the Indian Placement Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,7 sending him first to a Latter-day Saint foster family in Scottsdale, Arizona, and subsequently to a second family in Thatcher, Arizona. According to Eileen Quintana (Diné), one of Tinhorn's three surviving siblings,8 when he was home in Dennehotso for the summers, he spent much of his time at night under the kerosene lamp with a notebook and pencil: "His notebook was always full of writing."9 Eileen describes further that as a boy, Tinhorn was a kind, protective brother, especially after the passing of his father. Tinhorn was the type of boy who sent money home when he was away to help his mother, a kinship obligation for which he later entered the military in an attempt to overcome his family's perpetual poverty. At the same time, he suffered from episodes of depression, occasional substance abuse, and attempted suicide. He always told those close to him that he was sure he would die before the age of twenty-one.10 Threading together the complexities of Tinhorn's literature and life, Eileen explains, "Henry was a deep thinker. He lived in a world that was way before and beyond his time."11 From Thatcher, Tinhorn enrolled at the Intermountain Indian School as a possible preparatory school for subsequent university studies. He writes, "I've not thought too much about my future life as yet, but maybe I'll go to the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Monterey Bay area."12 Yet Tinhorn never made it to Santa Cruz. Instead, he followed the military tradition of his Navajo Code Talker uncles and transitioned directly from Intermountain into the US military and deployment to Vietnam. Three years later, married with a baby on the way, he was killed at the age of twenty.13

As Tinhorn's shortened life exemplifies, US federal Indian boarding schools—like their Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand counterparts—were not meant to become hotbeds for Indigenous networking, community building, and creative resistance. Instead, they were meant, as General Richard Henry Pratt so infamously described in his 1892 speech, to "Kill the Indian, and Save the Man" by removing Indigenous children from their families, communities, languages, and lands in order to shape them into contributing US citizens.14 The underlying mission of Pratt's rhetoric and its resulting pedagogy, [End Page 27] federal policies, public practice, and popular ideology were not merely acts of misguided federal paternalism. That mission is fundamentally, as Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee) describes, "the dissolution of tribal title to lands … [by] open warfare or assimilation into the American populace."15 Thus, the fact that Tinhorn was lost to war directly after graduating from Intermountain is no coincidence. Born out of battle, boarding schools were the next step of the same dissolution project, coinciding directly with the so-called "end of the Indian Wars."16 With each new study, we learn that despite the reality of occasional well-intentioned teachers and administrators, boarding schools fundamentally served to transform Indigenous bodies through martial regimentation, uniforms, and strict discipline from enemy combatants into low-wage laborers and frontline sacrifices in the service of American ideals that boarding school students were never meant to enjoy.

Founded in 1950, the Intermountain Indian School of Brigham City, Utah, in what was formerly the Bushnell General Military Hospital, had similar aims and was inherently part of this ongoing extermination order, this time targeting children on the Navajo Nation. Despite running throughout the American civil rights movement, the American Indian Movement, and the spreading consciousness of racial injustices throughout the United States, Inter-mountain—historically the largest postwar Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school—replicated prior programs but under an emerging legislative approach known as Indian Relocation.17 Intermountain transported children hundreds of miles away from home, enforced the English language, supported off-campus manual labor programs, and used, at times, abusive forms of physical and medical discipline as Diné youth were relocated away from tribal lands and kinship networks. Although Intermountain did not share in the overt extermination rhetoric of Pratt and the like, and although teachers such as West actively promoted their students' creative resistance to overreaching assimilationist agendas, the school similarly insisted on relocating Indigenous children from the "retrogressive influences" of the reservation in order to "allow [them] the freedom of association and the developing influences of social contact."18

Beyond participating in relocation as a form of assimilation, Intermountain also became part of the underlying industrial-military machine that simultaneously supported the desecration of Indigenous lands and lives on the reservation. While the school bussed thousands of young students north, for example, federally backed mining companies were at work digging the world's largest underground uranium mine beneath Tsoodził—the sacred mountain of the south. This particular mine contributed thirteen million tons of uranium ore to the US nuclear program,19 without warning Diné communities [End Page 28] of the already well-known radiation-related diseases that continue to plague the Navajo Nation into the present.20 As West recently described when asked whether she has maintained relationships with former students, it is difficult to stay in touch because "they keep dying so young."21 Thus Tinhorn's poetry offers a window into the boarding school experience from which it emerges while contributing to ongoing processes of healing from still-living boarding school histories.

Divorced from such context, Tinhorn's poem "Me," which serves as this essay's epigraph, features a straightforward, masculine monorhyme,22 pulling readers through an internalized tension between hopes and reality, the frustration of limited opportunities for social mobility, confusion at orthodox understandings between right and wrong, and the speaker's resulting inclination to resist such unilaterally imposed barriers, definitions, and doctrines. These aesthetic features alone merit analysis and interpretation. Yet, when we read "Me" as part of Tinhorn's collection of twenty-four poems that he self-published as a seventeen-year-old Diné student in West's Intermountain creative writing class, and in the complicated cultural, economic, and psychological context that his sister Eileen provides, the poem becomes much more than a representation of late-sixties adolescent angst. Rather, the poem's inherent energy begins to pulsate with what Justice and James H. Cox describe as "robust literary Indigeneity,"23 the profound power of young Indigenous life and literary resilience against the systems and structures that still seek to control expressions and embodiments of Indigenous identity.

Despite the surrounding systems and ongoing statistics of federally financed Indigenous death, Tinhorn's poem "Me" is not a eulogy. Nor is it a boarding school story of what Justice describes as "Indigenous deficiency."24 The poem does begin in deficiency-based mourning of the "tragic" loss of darkness—"the shadows of the night / disappear in mortal fright"—to the presumptive superiority of whiteness—"dawn wrapped in dull white / gives birth to brilliant light." Yet its repetitive end rhyme from "white" to "fight," from passively mourning the results of boarding school agendas to questioning their legitimacy, and finally contemplating proactive resistance against them, asserts being not dying, survivance not submission.25 Through this transformative process, Tinhorn does not elide the individual and communal effects of a settler colonial school system. But he refuses to submit to supposed colonial superiority by speaking only through the victim's voice. Instead, he alliteratively reasserts his desire and ability to resist, to stay standing, and to survive, at least through his poems.26 As he asserts in a subsequent poem, titled "I Stood": "They chopped away my life; / … but still / I stand."27 [End Page 29]

Figure 2. Entrance of Intermountain Indian School, 1955–70. Courtesy of Utah State University Special Collections Library.
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Figure 2.

Entrance of Intermountain Indian School, 1955–70. Courtesy of Utah State University Special Collections Library.

So far, such self-expressed creative resilience by boarding school students has not emerged with such an unfiltered aesthetic from the recovered records of boarding schools in the fields of American or Indigenous studies despite a recently renewed interest in boarding school student writing.28 In his 2011 anthology Changing Is Not Vanishing, Robert Dale Parker offers perhaps the first direct assertion that boarding school poetry should be considered an integral part of broader Indigenous literary histories. Overall, Parker's collection is the result of his invaluable effort to recover and reconceptualize early American Indian poetry (prior to 1930) as essential to a long-standing, ever-adapting literary tradition of Indigenous poetics. He places more than eighty largely forgotten poets in relationship with one another, including fourteen boarding school poets. While he introduces his selection of boarding school poems in recognition of their value as historical documents, [End Page 30] he simultaneously almost apologizes for their ostensible lack of aesthetic and intellectual value:

I must admit that, at least to my taste, the school poems typically carry less interest than the other poems. … As a group, the larger set of school poems lean toward bland clichés about how wonderful school is, along with the usual trite pieties about classmates and graduation. And yet the poignant position of the students, and a recognition that they wrote and published under the watchful eyes of sometimes dedicated but still colonialist overlords, cannot help lending even the school-bound platitudes an extra interest.29

With all that Parker's collection offers to the field of Indigenous literary studies in terms of broadening and deepening the history of Native American poetics, it is unfortunate that this first foray into reading boarding school poetry as legitimate literature arrived with a caveat that renders over a century of emerging Indigenous writers as being only circumstantially of interest. At the same time, it is Parker's collection and his encouraging invitation to not allow his work to be the "end of the story" of early American Indian poetry, to search further, read differently, and interpret previously sidelined Indigenous poets in unanticipated ways that provides the impetus for the present essay.30

Parker is right; boarding school poetry offers an unprecedented perspective into the lived experiences of boarding school students. Indeed, boarding school poetry evidences the many ways that "changing is not vanishing."31 Yet, while it remains critical to identify the historical and ongoing causes of physical and psychological concerns among Indigenous nations as they directly relate to the deracinating boarding school practices that Indigenous peoples have endured, Tinhorn's poetry pleads with readers to remember Indigenous students and survivors as more than victims of and commentators on colonial circumstance. Throughout his collection of poems, Tinhorn presents himself not as a helpless victim or as a blind beneficiary of assimilation but as a young Diné creator of living, adapting Indigenous culture.

Introducing his 1970 collection of Intermountain poems, Handful of Sand, Tinhorn offers the following preface:

For ages, people had the assumption that the power of the pen could save mankind. But I think the future lies with the young. … Nevertheless, my life is bound in here and the fears, joys, knowledge and stupidity of myself screams from the seams of this book.

The poems in here were not meant to get anyone "uptight." … All I ask is, remember me not by my actions, but remember me by my poems.32 [End Page 31]

Figure 3. Henry Tinhorn obituary included in the 1973 Intermountain Indian School yearbook.
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Figure 3.

Henry Tinhorn obituary included in the 1973 Intermountain Indian School yearbook.

[End Page 32]

In a way, Tinhorn's preface is now becoming prophetic. Lost to Vietnam at the age of twenty, Tinhorn's life, fears, joys, knowledge, and even adolescent actions remain alive largely in archives and limited familial memories. His poetry, however, still speaks, pleading with readers to remember his poetry in order to remember his complex, creative resilience.

Remembering Henry Tinhorn as a Diné Poet

Unlike the pre-1930s archive of boarding school poetry that Parker contextualizes as largely filtered through assimilationist school administrators, Tinhorn published his poetry in an era now commonly known as the Native American Renaissance (late 1960s–1980s). N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa-Cherokee) published his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, House Made of Dawn, for example, in 1968, Tinhorn's sophomore year at Intermountain. Although Native American literatures were gaining more national and international attention and circulation, it remains unclear what types of texts and writers Tinhorn drew inspiration from or hoped to be in conversation with.

Beyond the Euroamerican literary canon that dominated the Intermountain curriculum, West recalls encouraging Tinhorn and other students to even steal relevant texts from the school library to bring home with them each summer in hopes of expanding student literacy. Still, the only remaining book in West's donated teacher library that includes pre-1970s Indigenous poetry is A. Grove Day's ethnolinguistic study The Sky Clears (1951), which analyzes Indigenous ritual poetics throughout North America. Even beyond Intermountain and the remaining Indian boarding school system, as the Cherokee writer Thomas King describes, it was an era in which "we knew what we knew in bits and pieces."33 Focusing on the assumption that such filtered Indigenous literary voices were the extent of Tinhorn's young imaginative engagement, however, elides the extensive social and cultural consciousness that his poetry exudes, exemplifying the need to recognize the broader variety of contemporaneous Indigenous creative and cultural production beyond the already recognized Native Renaissance writers. At the same time, Tinhorn's poetry embodies the expansive imaginative framework and global applications of a specifically Diné worldview. Rather than assume Tinhorn's illiteracy in contemporaneous Indigenous socio-political-literary realities because of his boarding school environment, a memory from his sister Eileen presents a radically different [End Page 33] possibility. In addition to her memories of Tinhorn spending his summer nights writing under the kerosene lamp of their family hogan, she also remembers her brother kneeling during the US national anthem, fist raised in solidarity with the newly founded American Indian Movement to protest the ongoing injustices against American Indian peoples.34

On the one hand, recognizing what Tinhorn accomplishes with the "bits and pieces" of hemispheric Indigenous consciousness that King describes emphasizes Tinhorn's uncanny insight into broader personal and public sociopolitical realities—his being "before and beyond his time."35 Like many of the celebrated contemporary Indigenous poets today whose work has the ability to "fuse disparate elements: present and past, poetry and prose, the lyric 'I' and the communal 'we,'"36 Tinhorn's poetry pulls readers through the complicated realities of individual and communal Indigenous being, belonging, and becoming. In a way similar to how Heid E. Erdrich (Ojibwe) introduces the field's most recent anthology of Indigenous poetry, New Poets of Native Nations (2018), Tinhorn's poetry both embodies and predicts "a new time—an era of witness, of coming into voice, an era of change and of political and cultural resurgence."37

On the other hand, placing Tinhorn's poetry in conversation with contemporaneous and current understandings of Diné poetic epistemologies emphasizes the possibilities of reading Tinhorn's poetry as much more than limited circumstantial commentary. As King suggests, it is unlikely that Tinhorn, even within Diné-specific circles, had access to the developing literatures of his contemporaries. Luci Tapahonso (Diné), for example, who is widely known as the Navajo Nation's inaugural poet laureate, grew up on the opposite side of the Navajo Nation and attended a Methodist mission school in New Mexico rather than Intermountain. Likewise, the Navajo Nation's subsequent and current poet laureate, Laura Tohe (Diné), attended boarding school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Even if their paths had crossed, Tapahonso and Tohe did not publish their first stories and poems to a wide audience until at least a decade after Tinhorn's death, barring any possibilities of what could have been a prolific poetic cross-pollination. Yet as emerging Diné poet Sáanii (Tacey) M. Atsitty explains, regardless of the boarding school boundaries placed on the continuity of Diné poetic traditions, "Language has always been a part of who we are as Diné." She continues, "Poetry, for me, is language and language is what was used to form this world. I see poetry as ceremony. … To me, I use poetry for healing, for understanding, for teaching, for translating experiences, to share the essence of emotion."38 Atsitty's perspective on the possibilities of an extensive Diné poetic tradition provides an interpretive framework through [End Page 34] which we might better analyze and articulate the significance and timelessness of Tinhorn's Intermountain poetry, one that transcends questions limited to the circumstance and contemporaneousness of his work. In other words, Tinhorn's poetry becomes much more than a collection of "school-bound platitudes."39 Rather, it exemplifies the very characteristics that contemporary Indigenous literary critics define as being definitively Indigenous: namely, a commitment to community, a record of the history and transformative power of Indigenous relationships, and the ability of a text to produce and protect Indigenous life into the future.

Tinhorn's poetry, for example, although written and published in an institutional space designed to disengage Diné youths' commitment to their Indigenous communities, reflects what the Cherokee scholar Jace Weaver describes as "communitism," or the "proactive commitment to Native community, including … the 'wider community' of Creation itself." Weaver continues, "In communities that have too often been fractured and rendered dysfunctional by the effects of more than 500 years of colonialism, to promote communitist values means to participate in the healing of the grief and sense of exile felt by Native communities and the pained individuals in them."40 As Weaver suggests concerning communitist Indigenous literatures, Tinhorn's poetry bleeds with episodes of grief and exile, but it also rebuilds with an emphasis on resilience and healing for the individual, the human community, and Creation.

Beginning in grief and exile, the collection's second poem, "Learning," kicks off a two-page transformation from happiness to grief to gradual, inevitable death:

Ripe were my dreamscontented in tattered jeans.When life had no meaningto a face always beaming.… … … … … … … .Two words and a mouthwas all it took."DIRTY INJUN!"I sighed.wept wailed.knowing brotherhood was forgotten.41

The second stanza of the subsequent poem, "Hopelessness," reads "Now only hunger / stares at the stark / remains of yesterday. Sadness prevails / each day darker / than before. / Until finally my / eyes remain open."42 The collection's [End Page 35] fourth poem concludes "The minutes of my life flies. / And little by little I die."43 The fifth poem then reads:

    Mother, it's no use crying.    Tomorrow I shall be gone.    Mourn not for me, the dying.    … … … … … … … .My sights were blurred by tears to the rim.And I died each time I heard the words        "Dirty Injun" and "boy."Tomorrow, under a blanket of dirtI will lay, cold and unfeeling.44

With his return to the racial slurs introduced in the opening poem of his collection's first full spread, Tinhorn carries readers through his postrelocation life cycle: from the happiness of homelands to the hunger of hopelessness, and finally toward the death of just another "Dirty Injun."

By immediately inviting readers to witness the dislocation that leads to premature Diné death, Tinhorn's Intermountain collection clearly moves beyond what Parker describes as "trite pieties." Yet for a text to be considered communitist, grief must transform into proactive individual and communal healing. Tinhorn's collection does exactly this; the poems convey episodes of overt racism, terrifying introspection, and contemplated suicide, only to respond with poems of resilient, resurgent hope. In the first example, "Let's Seek," Tinhorn calls for the need to rebuild the "brotherly love" lost in previous poems with this admonition: "Come, let's get together with / a love so powerful that / Hate shall tremble silently."45 Three poems later, he offers a poem as a gift of such hate-defying love: "Working from the light of day until nite has / set the scene. I have prepared this. / Just for you, to find yourself in life."46 While Tinhorn documents Diné death throughout his collection, his poems simultaneously contain life-giving words and stories that he offers as sources for healing and rebuilding.

Tinhorn's concluding poem in the collection provides the final juxtaposition of grief and healing, connecting both back, as Weaver's concept of communitism demands, to the land and Creation:

"Where are my people?" the mountains cry out."I've seen them play and live in my hands.    And I've felt them run the trail of my back.Before the sleepy winter came. I heard their laughter    Ring out and fill the valleys with joy. [End Page 36] Now there's only the sounds of silence where    Once a baby had talked in meaningless sentences.Mr. Sun you've traveled, do you know where my people are?"    A drop of golden sunshine was the answer."Have you seen my people?" the mountains ask the sky.    But the rains came, and that was the sky's reply.47

This poem, titled "Mountain's Lament," returns readers to the sacred mountains of Diné Bikéyah (Navajo land) and the origins of the Diné people, concluding Tinhorn's communitist cycle of grief and healing—individual and communal—that he offers as a poetic compass for navigating and understanding Intermountain experiences. Through his personification of the sky crying, Tinhorn seems, almost, to surrender to the predetermined narrative outlined in his previous poems of the death of Diné culture, land, language, and people, until readers recognize the significance of rain to the deserts of the Navajo Nation. Tinhorn's sky weeps in reply to the mountain's lament, but with the sky's tears, Diné Bikéyah is reborn with the resplendent scents, sights, and sounds that only those familiar with desert rain can fully appreciate. With this Creative renewal, Tinhorn offers his collection of poems to the reservation and off-reservation Diné communities that his poetry seeks to both embody and embolden.

In addition to his attention to communitist healing threaded through his poetry, "Mountain's Lament" also cycles through the relationship of history, present story, and the future, a reciprocal cycle that Tinhorn repeats throughout his collection. LeAnne Howe (Choctaw) describes such relationships within Indigenous literatures as "histories and stories with the power to transform," a rhetorical space that she describes as "tribalography."48 Thus, in addition to reading Tinhorn's collection as communitist literature, his poems can also be read as a Diné tribalography: transformative stories of past creation that produce creative Indigenous powers in the present and into the future.

"Mountain's Lament," for example, concludes Tinhorn's collection by returning to the Diné Bahane' (Navajo Creation story), emphasizing that the sky's tears serve as much more than a metaphor for desert rain. As told by Diné storyteller Don Mose Jr., "In the beginning the Holy People created Father Sky and Mother Earth in perfect harmony and balance. … From Father Sky, the sun shined brightly, and rain fell abundantly to Mother Earth. She was nourished and energized and all the earthly creations flourished."49 According to Mose, an argument soon ensued, breaking down the father–mother harmony of Diné relations. Without the reciprocity of Father's rain, all of Mother's creations began to die off until a few surviving creatures finally convinced her to reconcile with Father Sky. Mose continues: [End Page 37]

She sent the only bird left with a message to Father Sky. … On the fourth day, lightning struck. Out of the clouds and lightning flew the bird, back down to earth. With him he brought the answer from Father Sky: rain and the smell of fresh air. Mother earth began to come back to life. The moisture restored life and energy, and the plants and creatures reappeared.50

In Mose's cultural context and Howe's theoretical framework, Tinhorn's poem suddenly acquires multiple layers of meaning that retell the interweaving histories and stories of Diné creation, precolonial laughter and life, settler extermination efforts, and ongoing acts of resurgence and regeneration through repaired relationships and renewed reciprocity with one another, the land, and Creation.

In fact, Tinhorn places an ancestral prose story of home, removal, and survival directly at the center of his collection of otherwise only poetry. He explains that he first heard the story about his great-aunt, known as Tall Woman, from his maternal grandfather when "real young" and then again later from his mother.51 The story tells of a time after the Long Walk when, according to Tinhorn, Ute, Mexican, and white slave traders roamed the mountains kidnapping able-bodied Diné to sell to settler ranchers.52 After such raiders killed Tall Woman's father, she and her mother set out with a small group to resettle in Utah with the hope of greater safety near Mormon settlers. Two days into their journey, however, a band of Utes overtook Tall Woman's group. Hiding in the crevice of a cliff, she watched the band murder her mother and the rest of her company. As she emerged from her hiding spot, Tinhorn tells:

She stopped and cried for the rest of the day, until finally she slept. Sometime between midnight and morning, she woke up, shaking because of the coolness in the low wash. She sat, then decided to go back to Black Mountain, where her people lived. She found the necklace which had been thrown over the cliff by her mother and a bag of parched corn. Then without looking back, she made her way to Black Mountain.53

At first, the placement of Tall Woman's story at the center of Tinhorn's collection of poems is disorienting. Reading the collection as Tinhorn's tribalography, however, renders both the placement and the particularities of the story a striking significance.

Like his great-aunt, federal agencies had relocated Tinhorn from his home. He had moved to the supposed safety of Mormon-settler surroundings. Yet, in this place of promised protection, his poetry presents stories of personal and collective death, both symbolic and literal. In waking moments, he writes of being lost, of longing not for the promised security and economic success [End Page 38] found in boarding-school-style progress but for his people and for home. In the story, Tall Woman walked alone "back to Black Mountain, where her people lived," carrying with her the two surviving material connections to her mother: a turquoise necklace and a bag of parched corn. Like "Mountain's Lament," Tinhorn's emphasis on Black Mountain, turquoise, and corn connects Tall Woman's story and Tinhorn's collection directly back to Diné Creation.54 In the poems that surround this story, he traces the ancestral steps of Tall Woman. "Without looking back," his poetry takes him to the origin of Creation from whence he can begin to rebuild a future re-membered to his cultural body. Tinhorn's storied return to Creation, however, is not a romantic idea of precolonial paradise. Instead, the Creative return is a rebuilding that finds strength from the surviving connections to Mother that Intermountain could never extinguish. The return is resurgent in the face of ongoing racism and deracinating federal policies and practices. Thus Tinhorn's retelling of Tall Woman's story, as part of the broader tribalography that he creates, becomes a creative act of returning that carries all the pain of past and present dislocation back home for healing into the future.

In a poem titled "When I'm Old Enough" that he places after Tall Woman's story, Tinhorn imagines his own return:

Under the veil of darknessThere appears the emblem of madness.Like a rabid dog it waits toInflict the wound of prejudice.

It seems like it's all a strange game.You know, we're all a little the sameWith countless sorrows and one-way roadUsing ideas as our maps.

Under the torch of humanityA young man, so bitter, stares at the skyAs he remembers the words "Love Thy Neighbors";Starts walking into the night,A night that's black like him.55

Here Tinhorn poeticizes institutionalized racism and then turns such prejudicial logic on its head by highlighting his common humanity. His juxtaposition of plural sorrows—highlighting the diversity of human experience—with the singular "one-way road" channels the long-standing public rhetoric of Indigenous intellectuals, leaders, and other public figures who provide Indigenous perspectives [End Page 39] on the centrality of human relationships, seeking to "place a few things before [their] fellow creatures who are travelling with [them] to the grave."56

Yet, while Tinhorn emphasizes the rudimentary reality of human equality, he returns immediately to the plural "maps," asserting the validity of various versions of how one travels the "road." With this assertion of epistemological diversity, Tinhorn poetically packs up and, like Tall Woman, begins to walk into the night, toward the stars, back home to Black Mountain, to Creation. Through his combination of story and poetry, contemporary realities and Creation, Tinhorn's collection compiles a Diné tribalography, or what the editors of Sovereign Erotics describe as a poetic "collection of maps,"57 that traces the relationship of Diné realities and stories from the past, through the present, and into the future—from Creation, along the Long Walk, off to boarding school, and onto the emotional, embodied, and empowering journey back home. Tinhorn's tribalography asserts a poetic vision much like Tapahonso, who writes, "We / must remember the worlds / our ancestors / traveled" in order to "leave wrapped in old blankets of love and wisdom."58

"Away from Home": Remembering Boarding School Stories

Tapahonso's injunction to remember ancestral roads echoes Tinhorn's earlier preface to remember him by his poems, pushing readers beyond the individual to ask the broader question of how we—the public, American studies scholars and students, Indigenous community members—remember boarding school students and survivors. Within American studies, much of what we do is try to remember. We weave together scattered pieces of the past and present in search of some semblance of truth that might provide a more accurate and nuanced account of the intricacies of our collective American experience. Such remembering of US Indian boarding schools, at least in the form of book-length studies, began to take shape in the late 1980s and early 1990s, led by historians. These studies focused on the various approaches to assimilation59 and retraced federal Indian education policy and its lasting effects on surviving students to condemn the underlying project of cultural extermination.60 While these histories highlight moments of student survivance, they focus heavily on indicting the federal government for its unapologetic brutality.

In this era of renewed attention to remembering boarding schools, two field-shaping historians emerged that have forever shifted how we continue to tell boarding school stories: Tsianina Lomawaima (Mvskoke/Creek) and Brenda Child (Ojibwe). Lomawaima and Child contextualized their stories in the genocidal project of federal Indian boarding schools, but both prioritized [End Page 40] the lived experiences of boarding school students and survivors over genocidal politics in order to assert an alternative boarding school history: "Indian people at boarding schools were not passive consumers of an ideology or lifestyle imparted from above by federal administrators. They actively created an ongoing educational and social process. … Indian people made [boarding schools] their own."61 As Child argues, "The extraordinary part of the boarding story emerges because Indians, even children, refused to act powerless."62

In 2000, Child and Lomawaima teamed up with the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, to bring their recovery of Indigenous-specific perspectives on boarding schools into the present and to the public with a museum exhibit and a coinciding book, Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Experiences, 1879–2000. This effort set a renewed precedent for subsequent boarding school studies, encouraging scholars to remember the realities of federal Indian boarding schools through the experiences of those for whom these histories remain lived realities. They are "stories of the strategies of human survival—resistance, accommodation, faith in oneself and one's heritage, the ability to learn from hard times, to create something beautiful and meaningful from scraps and fragments."63 In concert, the 2000s have offered another array of book-length boarding school studies that continue to narrow in on and further nuance specific school, staff, and student experiences.64

While the body of boarding school studies continues to grow, boarding school stories have also begun to become more commonplace in North American public discourse, especially in Canada due to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The culminating TRC report, The Survivors Speak (2015), documents, among other things, the overwhelming accounts of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse experienced in schools across the continent. Although the TRC facilitated public truth telling on a nationwide scale, many scholars suggest that the underlying hopes from the federal side have been simply to move on, to forgive and forget. As Keavy Martin suggests, "While healing and reconciliation are certainly desirable occurrences, … these concepts can also entail a fixation upon resolution that is not only premature but problematic in its correlation with forgetting."65

Recognizing the limitations of the TRC, a number of Indigenous scholars have offered alternative approaches to reconciling residential/boarding school experiences. Jeff Corntassel (Cherokee), Chaw-win-is (Nuu-chah-nulth), and T'lakwadzi (Kwakwaka'wakw), for example, locate residential school stories within the long-standing tradition of storytelling as a communal act of rebuilding. Together they argue that using Indigenous methodologies and experiential knowledges enables residential/boarding school stories to become/remain [End Page 41] "community-centered visions for resurgence and renewal."66 Thus, beyond possibly inducing national amnesia, boarding school stories have the simultaneous potential of furthering Indigenous nation-specific and trans-Indigenous remembering as an act of resistance to the ongoing, post-apology exploitations of Indigenous peoples, lives, and lands. Such remembering is not simply an academic endeavor of contextualizing and conceptualizing boarding/residential school stories into classroom curricula—though teaching more accurate residential school histories is increasing in Canada since the TRC. Rather, in order for Indigenous residential/boarding school storytelling to become an act of resurgence, it must be shared in community-centered spaces and ceremonies.

Bringing Corntassel's community-based remembering of residential school stories to the individual level, Janice Acoose describes such resurgent remembering as the embodied practice of "re-membering" one's self to one's cultural bodies. In her 2016 essay "Iskwewak Kah' Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomakanak: Remembering Being to Signifying Female Relations,"67 Acoose takes readers through the "genocidal process that dis-membered [her] Being from signifying Nehiowé-Métis-Anishinaabe cultural bodies and relations" in order to emphasize her own resilience as a Nehiowé-Métis-Anishinaabekwe woman.68 Such work included reconnecting (re-membering) herself to both her maternal and paternal lands and relations. She explains, "My awakening began when I was newly re-membered to my own cultural bodies."69 Acoose's embodied methodology of re-membering provides the necessary first step to the type of community-specific and community-centered reconciliation that Corntassel, Chaw-win-is, and T'lakwadzi establish as the underlying potential of telling boarding/residential school stories for engendering lasting resurgence of Indigenous individuals, communities, and nations.

In their most recent collection of essays, Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education, Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou), Eve Tuck (Unangax̂), and K. Wayne Yang build on Smith's 1999 field-defining Decolonizing Methodologies to remind us that "there is no decolonization without Indigenous presence on Indigenous land and waters."70 Thus, while remembering Henry Tinhorn as a Diné poet in conversation with broader cultural, historical, and literary contexts is itself an important form of decolonial practice,71 re-membering Tinhorn to his land and community is an attempt to emphasize "Indigenous epistemologies" that maintain "land, water, and the more-than-human world" as well as "relations as accountability" as the resurgent poetics embedded in Tinhorn's literature and life.72 [End Page 42]

"Yes, That's My Brother!": Re-membering the Poetry of Henry Tinhorn

By gathering and recontextualizing boarding school survivors' experiences as the previously neglected narratives that are necessary to more accurately remember boarding school histories, Lomawaima, Child, and others have recentered Indigenous perspectives on boarding schools in ways that break down the oppressed victim / assimilationist enabler binary. While these histories have forever shifted boarding school studies by prioritizing Indigenous-specific experiences, however, the focus has remained largely on the forced experience of being, as Lomawaima and Child state so succinctly, "away from home." Yet students of the Intermountain Indian School, as but one example, also brought their boarding school community back home with them to their lands and communities. They have continued to re-member themselves and their off-reservation boarding school communities, experiences, and perspectives to their Diné cultural bodies in an effort to maintain their own and their posterity's cultural continuity. As Corntassel and Acoose attest, the inherent power of boarding/residential school stories is not only in how they might shift general perceptions and policies when voiced publicly, but additionally in how they might regenerate Indigenous cultural bodies when re-membered communally. As Tinhorn's collection exemplifies, such stories are neither aesthetically inept nor only of circumstantial importance; they are vital to overcoming intergenerational boarding school trauma, what Child describes as "the ancestor in a direct genealogical line of terrible offspring."73

As Corntassel, Acoose, and other Indigenous scholars suggest, this essay seeks to emphasize scholars', even non-Indigenous scholars', responsibility to participate in the process of re-membering boarding school students to their cultural bodies, of ensuring that their stories are not only told to influence public discourse and policy but told within communal spaces as "everyday acts of resurgence."74 As a non-Indigenous scholar (Taylor) and a non-Indigenous graduate student (Wride), prior to encountering Tinhorn's poetry in the archive of the Intermountain Indian School,75 we had no real relationship with Diné communities. Yet we recognized a tangible longing in Tinhorn's poetry to return home among family and friends, and we set such a posthumous reunion as our first priority. After working through the collection of Intermountain student writings, we immediately reached out to our limited Diné community contacts and described the body of creative writing that we had gathered from the archive.76 Word spread, and we were soon invited to collaborate with Diné scholars and Intermountain alumni on a much larger project of [End Page 43] returning—re-membering—the creative writing, visual art, and oral histories of the Intermountain home to the Navajo Nation.77 Through the poetry of Henry Tinhorn, the present essay describes the process and potential of but one such re-membering.

In June 2017 we accepted an invitation from the Intermountain Alumni Association to present our work at its annual reunion campout at Wheatfields Lake, Navajo Nation. The Wheatfields reunion provided an opportunity to begin the process of re-membering Tinhorn's poetry, alongside the works of hundreds of Intermountain creative writers and visual artists, to his homelands and community. By inviting us to contribute to the reunion and to begin a relationship of ongoing collaboration, the alumni were encouraging us—as non-Indigenous scholars—to, as Aileen Moreton-Robinson (Goenpul) suggests, engage with "Indigenous-embodied knowledges …, but not produce them."78 They were teaching us the importance of seeing beyond aesthetic- or circumstance-only evaluations of boarding school stories, helping us understand why and how we needed to locate Tinhorn's poetry in a place-based cultural, historical, and spiritual context.

We arrived at Wheatfields with minds full of boarding school histories, as well as now-public residential school survivor stories: narratives of dislocation, unimaginable abuse, forced language loss, cultural genocide. As Corntassel et al. suggest, however, the communal scents and sounds that welcomed us turned such determinative histories on their head. The students were no longer "away from home," nor did they demonstrate the either–or binaries that so many histories and popular pundits present. Instead, the smell of fresh fry bread and ponderosa pines mixed seamlessly with the sounds of laughter and stories spoken across multiple generations almost exclusively in Diné bizaad (the Navajo language). We learned quickly that Wheatfields Lake is not a refuge of oppressed victims or bicultural beings. Instead, it is a space of reunion, resilience, remembering, and re-membering of and by creators of Diné culture and community. Wheatfields is a continuation of the cultural body that they, as Diné students at Intermountain, creatively maintained while away from home. Even more so, the Wheatfields reunion is an embodiment of the collective, creative power of returning and re-membering home.

Beneath the collective resurgent strength that exudes from the annual Intermountain alumni reunion, however, there remains an expressed longing for a more representative gathering, one that would include such students as Tinhorn, who "keep dying so young." While war has made it impossible to re-member Tinhorn's body to his Diné community, his prefaced plea to remember him not by his actions but by his poems presents the possibility of [End Page 44]

Figure 4. Intermountain Alumni Reunion, 2017. Photo taken by Terence Wride.
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Figure 4.

Intermountain Alumni Reunion, 2017. Photo taken by Terence Wride.

not only remembering his poetry for its inherent aesthetic, contextual, and intellectual value but re-membering his poetry to Diné Bikéyah as an act and asset of Diné cultural resurgence. By physically bringing Tinhorn's poetry back to his community or, as Justice encourages, by taking Tinhorn's poems "beyond the white space and root[ing] them—and ourselves—in rich red earth and memory,"79 Tinhorn's poems will no longer be reduced to aesthetic artifacts of circumstantial significance. Rather, when one is able to peel back the "jagged layers of colonialist misunderstandings" by re-membering Tinhorn's poetry to his land and community,80 his writing begins to embody what Sophie Mayer describes as "an Indigenous mode of poetics … whereby the poem invites the world and the world opens to the poem."81 As Tinhorn states in his preface, his collection of poems is an invitation, an invitation to remember, engage with, learn from, and (re)build regenerative Indigenous relationships.

Last October, forty-five years after Tinhorn's death, his poems and photographs from Intermountain—his archived "blankets of love and wisdom"—were not only re-membered to Diné Bikéyah and his Intermountain alumni community; his writings were also re-membered to his surviving family. After more than two years of unsuccessfully searching through archives, social media feeds, and Intermountain alumni reunions in hopes of finding a living relative, [End Page 45] we finally turned to prayer: "If there is anybody who needs Tinhorn's poetry, please guide us." With faith, we renewed our search and soon came across an article in a local Utah newspaper:

Powwows are very much family affairs for the Quintanas. [Their] oldest daughter … usually dances in memory of her four slain cousins. "They were all such wonderful, beautiful dancers." … Eileen's oldest son … dances for veterans' groups in honor of his uncle, Henry Tinhorn, who died in Vietnam.82

The article identified Eileen as the Title VI director of American Indian education in a neighboring school district.83 We immediately reached out to the Title VI director in our school district, whom we already knew well, and by the end of the day, we had set up our first meeting with Eileen. We met for breakfast the next day at a local diner, eager to reunite Tinhorn's Intermountain writings, yearbook photos, and other records with his surviving family.

Upon seeing an Intermountain yearbook memorial to her deceased brother, and flipping through the pages of his published poems, she responded, her voice shaking with a tangible transformation of sorrow into joy: "Yes! That's my brother!" She then described the particular challenges that she and the Tinhorn family have faced: the early uranium-induced death of their father, boarding school trauma in Dennehotso, Tinhorn's early death in Vietnam, the intergenerational effects of boarding schools, extractive industries, and poverty. Yet, like Tinhorn's poetry, Eileen juxtaposed the challenges with a story of resilient hope for the future as she described how her oldest son continues dance, as the local news article described, to the memory of his uncle Henry. After reading and talking through the interconnected poems and stories of her brother's life, Tinhorn's sister concluded, "I was anxious to come here today, but it has been really cathartic."84 As Eileen's response exemplifies, re-membering Henry Tinhorn as a Diné poet is infinitely more than arguing for his inclusion in discussions around the Native American Renaissance or even for his inclusion in discussions of Diné literary history and broader Indigenous literary studies, though such interventions are important. Rather, re-membering Henry Tinhorn as a Diné poet has already begun a renewed process of healing in a family, in a community, and on the land—Diné Bikéyah—that the Tinhorns will always call home.

Re-membering Boarding School Stories into the Future

Just as Lomawaima and Child have forever shifted boarding school histories by insisting on the importance of prioritizing Indigenous perspectives, reading Tinhorn's "rebel" poetry through critical Indigenous understandings challenges [End Page 46] literary scholars to move beyond the aesthetic- or circumstance-only arguments that continue to limit serious scholarship on boarding school student literary and thereby cultural productions. Read through such theoretical models as Weaver's communitism and Howe's tribalography, as but two of many critical Indigenous frameworks that continue to shape the field of Indigenous studies, Tinhorn's poetry begins to fill in gaps in both Diné and broader Indigenous literary histories. Read as part of a renewed relationship with the land, community, and family from which his writing originated, Tinhorn's poetry begins to contribute to Diné and broader Indigenous communities that continue to rebuild from centuries of unceasing cultural and physical dislocation. Thus what Justice asserts about Indigenous literatures also applies to Tinhorn's poems: "They are good medicine. They remind us about who we are and where we're going, on our own and in relation to those with whom we share this world. They remind us about the relationships that make a good life possible. In short, they matter."85 In fact, Tinhorn seems to have already understood why his poetry matters as a catalyst toward such medicinal relationships through a form of poetic reciprocity: "I invite you to share with me, and hopefully enjoy."86

As Weaver, Howe, Justice, and so many contemporary Indigenous literary critics challenge readers to acknowledge, Indigenous literatures—including boarding school student writings—have always been more than a corpus of aesthetically or circumstantially exceptional texts that scholars seek to remember and then teach through various methods of established literary inquiry. Rather, Indigenous literatures are the literal evidence of and source for Indigenous survival. Kānaka Maoli scholar ku'ualoha ho'omanawanui challenges readers through a Hawaiian proverb: "I ka 'ōlelo ke ola, i ka 'ōlelo ka make, 'in words is the power of life, in words is the power of death.'"87 Embodying this literal power of Indigenous words, Tinhorn's boarding school poetry encourages readers to become agents of individual and communal resurgence. In a more Diné-specific understanding, Tinhorn's writings express a fundamental teaching of Diné cultural being: Nánitł'ah dóó biyáhoyee'nidii hózhó ọ́g̣o naashaa dooleeł diiní, "although it is hard and difficult to aspire to it, we want to live our lives in beauty/harmony."88

In addition to remembering Tinhorn's poetry as communitist literature and as a Diné tribalography, thereby acknowledging its autonomous importance in the long-standing history of Diné and broader Indigenous poetics, remembering Tinhorn's poetry to his Diné homelands, community, and family provides one more collection of the life-giving words and stories necessary to continue building healthier Indigenous futures. As such, his poems matter, as Justice so determinedly demands, not only because they were produced within colonial confinement, but because as Indigenous literature [End Page 47]

Figure 5. Unnamed student painting of a sheepherder at work in the desert, 1955–70. Courtesy of Utah State University Special Collections Library.
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Figure 5.

Unnamed student painting of a sheepherder at work in the desert, 1955–70. Courtesy of Utah State University Special Collections Library.

[End Page 48]

they reflect the truth of our survival and our own special beauty in the world to which we belong. They do not hide the traumas or the shadows; they don't make everything neat and tidy, or presume that the horrors of colonialism will be easily put to rest. … But [they] remind us that our histories are more than tragedy, more than suffering, more than the stories of degradation and deficiency that settler colonialism would have us believe. They remind us that we're the inheritors of heavy, painful legacies, but also of hope and possibility, of a responsibility to make the world better for those yet to come.89

Re-membering Tinhorn, as but one of thousands of boarding school student writers, has the potential to enliven healthier family, community, and public boarding school discourse by recognizing students and survivors not only for their ability to remain alive while away from home but because of their inspiring ability to maintain creative communities that could, at last, return and regenerate home.

Such acts of re-membering, of returning and rebuilding home, will allow generations of young Indigenous creators to finally be recognized as more than boarding school victims. As Tinhorn cries out from his collection, "All I ask is, remember me not by my actions, but remember me by my poems."

By returning home the creative works of students at Intermountain, we echo the arguments of Lomawaima, Child, and similar boarding school historians about the need to remember Indigenous boarding school students by the communities they chose to create through song, dance, paint, and poetry while "away from home." Indeed, Tinhorn's collection of poems pleads to be remembered in such a way. However, his poetry also longs to do what the US military-industrial complex refused to allow his body to do: to be re-membered to his Diné Mother Earth and to be rained on by Father Sky in order to regrow within and continue to contribute to the reciprocity of Diné and wider Indigenous resurgence. By re-membering Tinhorn's Intermountain poetry, he can now rejoin his classmates at Wheatfields, as well his surviving siblings, nephews, and nieces, as they gather with their children and their children's children to reciprocally cry, laugh, and embrace, as they tell and listen to stories told almost exclusively in Diné bizaad, on and for Diné Bikéyah. [End Page 49]

Michael P. Taylor

Michael P. Taylor is assistant professor of English and associate director of American Indian studies at Brigham Young University. His rst book, Co-National Networks: Writing Indigenous Solidarity into the Twentieth Century, is forthcoming from University of Washington Press (2021). His subsequent critical collection, Returning Home: Navajo Creative Works from the Intermountain Indian School, is forthcoming from University of Arizona Press (2021). His research engages Indigenous archives to expand Indigenous literary histories and support community-centered Indigenous resurgence.

Terence Wride

Terence Wride is a master's degree student in American studies at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. Upon completion of his thesis on transatlantic diplomacy and multicultural literary narratives of Europe, he will be applying to PhD programs for Fall 2020.


. We would like to thank the surviving students, family members, and teachers of the Intermountain Indian School who made this research possible. We are especially grateful to Eileen Quintana and her surviving siblings, who were so willing to share Henry Tinhorn's life with us. Thank you to the anonymous reviewers and the AQ editorial board for their generative feedback. We also gratefully acknowledge the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, the Brigham Young University College of Humanities, and the Utah Humanities for their generous support of this research. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of the National Endowment for the Humanities, or Utah Humanities.

1. Alexa West, interview with the author, October 13, 2017.

2. Arrow is a four-volume publication edited by Terry D. Allen and published from 1969 to 1972. This should not be confused with the publications from the Carlisle Institute under the same name.

3. Allen was then director of the communication project for the Bureau of Indian Affairs' elementary and secondary schools.

4. West, interview.

5. Eileen Quintana, interview with the author, October 2, 2018.

6. Henry Tinhorn, "Our Author," in Handful of Sand (Brigham City, UT: Intermountain Indian School, 1970), 4.

7. The Indian Placement Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began in 1954 under the direction of then Apostle and later President Spencer W. Kimball and was discontinued in 1996. Throughout the duration of the initiative, more than seventy thousand Native children's parents chose to have their children live with Latter-day Saint foster families throughout Arizona, California, Idaho, and Utah during the school year.

8. Henry Tinhorn had three brothers and four sisters. He is survived by two sisters and one brother.

9. Eileen Quintana, interview with the author, October 2, 2018.

10. Eileen Quintana, interview with the author, October 5, 2018.

11. Quintana, interview, October 2, 2018.

12. Tinhorn, "Our Author," 4.

13. Quintana, interview, October 5, 2018.

14. Richard H. Pratt, "The Advantages of Mingling Indians with Whites," in Americanizing the American Indians: Writings by the "Friends of the Indian," 1880–1900, ed. Francis Paul Prucha (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973), 260.

15. Daniel Heath Justice, "The Cherokee Nation and the Anglo Nation," in The Heath Anthology of American Literature, vol. B, ed. Paul Lauter (Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2014), 2396–410.

16. Brenda J. Child, "The Boarding School as Metaphor," Journal of American Indian Education 57.1 (2018): 38–39.

17. The Indian Relocation Act (1956) was the next step in the ongoing assimilationist agenda. The act offered to cover moving expenses, vocational training, medical insurance, and other services to persuade adult Native Americans to relocate from reservations to urban centers.

18. Pratt, "Advantages of Mingling Indians with Whites," 271.

19. Esther Yazzie-Lewis and Jim Zion, "Leetso, the Powerful Yellow Monster: A Navajo Cultural Interpretation of Uranium Mining," in The Navajo People and Uranium Mining, ed. Doug Brugge, Timothy Benally, and Esther Yazzie-Lewis (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006), 3.

20. Traci Brynne Voyles, Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997).

21. West, interview.

22. Masculine monorhyme is a rhyme scheme in which each line ends on an identical rhyme of final stressed syllables.

23. Daniel Heath Justice and James H. Cox, eds., "Introduction: Post-Renaissance Indigenous American Literary Studies," in The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literatures (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 10.

24. Daniel Heath Justice, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2018), 2.

25. Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabe) coined the term survivance as "an active sense of presence, the continuation of Native stories, not a mere reaction" (Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance [Lincoln, NE: Bison Books, 1999], vii).

26. Although Tinhorn published other creative writing pieces during his time at Intermountain Indian School, all his writings cited throughout this essay are from his 1970 collection Handful of Sand.

27. Henry Tinhorn, "I Stood," in Handful of Sand (Brigham City, UT: Intermountain Indian School, 1970), 19.

28. See Amelia V. Katanski's Learning to Write "Indian": The Boarding-School experience and American Indian Literature (2005), Jacqueline Emery's Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press (2017), and Arnold Krupat's Changed Forever: American Indian Boarding-School Literature (2018).

29. Robert Dale Parker, Changing Is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 9.

30. Parker, 42.

31. Parker, 42.

32. Henry Tinhorn, "Getting Older," in Handful of Sand, 3.

33. Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), 138–39.

34. Quintana, interview, October 2, 2018.

35. Eileen Quintana, interview with the author, August 8, 2018.

36. Dean Rader and Janice Gould, eds., introduction to Speak to Me Words: Essays on Contemporary American Indian Poetry (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2003), 11.

37. Heid E. Erdrich, ed., "Introduction: Twenty-One Poets for the Twenty-First Century," in New Poets of Native Nations (Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2018), xi.

38. Tacey M. Atsitty, interview with the author, August 8, 2018.

39. Parker, Changing Is Not Vanishing, 9.

40. Jace Weaver, That the People Might Live: Native American Literatures and Native American Community (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), xiii.

41. Henry Tinhorn, "Learning," in Handful of Sand, 6.

42. Henry Tinhorn, "Hopelessness," in Handful of Sand, 7.

43. Henry Tinhorn, "Getting Older," in Handful of Sand, 7.

44. Henry Tinhorn, "Mourn Not," in Handful of Sand, 7.

45. Henry Tinhorn, "Let's Seek," in Handful of Sand, 10.

46. Henry Tinhorn, "Life," in Handful of Sand, 14.

47. Henry Tinhorn, "Mountain's Lament," in Handful of Sand, 7.

48. LeAnne Howe, "Tribalography: The Power of Native Stories," Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 14.1 (1999): 118.

49. Don Mose Jr., Father Sky and Mother Earth: A Navajo Legend (Salt Lake City: Utah State Office of Education, 2006), 1.

50. Mose, 7–9.

51. Tinhorn, "Getting Older," 12.

52. From 1864 to 1866, the US Army forced the three-hundred-plus-mile relocation of Diné from their homelands to Hwéeldi (Bosque Redondo, New Mexico). At least two hundred Diné died along the way.

53. Henry Tinhorn, "Tall Woman," in Handful of Sand, 7.

54. Paul G. Zolbrod, Diné Bahane': The Navajo Creation Story (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984).

55. Henry Tinhorn, "When I'm Old Enough," in Handful of Sand, 13.

56. William Apess, "An Indian's Looking-Glass for the White Man," in The Norton Anthology of American Literature: Beginnings to 1865, ed. Robert S. Levine (New York: W. W. Norton, 2017), 545.

57. Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti, ed., Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2011), 1.

58. Luci Tapahonso, Radiant Curve: Poems and Stories (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2008), 89.

59. Clyde Ellis, To Change Them Forever: Indian Education at the Rainy Mountain Boarding School, 1893–1920 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), 196.

60. David Wallace Adams, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875–1928 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995), 337.

61. K. Tsianina Lomawaima, They Called It Prairie Light: The Story of Chilocco Indian School (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994), 167.

62. Brenda J. Child, "The Boarding School as Metaphor," Journal of American Indian Education 57.1 (2018): 39.

63. Margaret L. Archuleta, Brenda J. Child, and K. Tsianina Lomawaima, ed., Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Experiences, 1879–2000 (Phoenix: Heard Museum, 2000), 19.

64. For a few examples, see Edwin L. Chalcraft's Assimilation's Agent: My Life as a Superintendent in the Indian Boarding School (2004), Amelia V. Katanski's Learning to Write "Indian": The Boarding-School Experience and American Indian Literature (2005), the collection Boarding School Blues: Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences (2006), Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert's Education Beyond the Mesas: Hopi Studies at Sherman Institute, 1902–29 (2010), Jacqueline Fear-Segal and Susan D. Rose's Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Indigenous Histories, Memories, and Reclamations (2016), and Jacqueline Emery's Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press.

65. Keavy Martin, "Truth, Reconciliation, and Amnesia: Porcupines and China Dolls and the Canadian Conscience," English Studies in Canada 35.1 (2009): 49.

66. Jeff Corntassel, Chaw-win-is, and T'lakwadzi, "Indigenous Storytelling, Truth-Telling, and Community Approaches to Reconciliation," English Studies in Canada 35.1 (2009): 141.

67. This essay is an updated revision of Acoose's original 1995 work "Reclaiming Myself."

68. Janice Acoose, "Iskwewak Kah' Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomakanak: Re-membering Being to Signifying Female Relations," in Learn, Teach, Challenge: Approaching Indigenous Literatures, ed. Deanna Reder and Linda M. Morra (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2016), 22.

69. Acoose, 33.

70. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Eve Tuck, and K. Wayne Yang, eds., introduction to Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education: Mapping the Long View (New York: Routledge, 2018), 1.

71. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago Press).

72. Tuhiwai Smith, Tuck, and Yang, introduction, 22.

73. Child, "Boarding School as Metaphor," 38.

74. Jeff Corntassel, "Re-envisioning Resurgence: Indigenous Pathways to Decolonization and Sustainable Self-Determination," Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society 1.1 (2012): 86–101.

75. The official archive of the Intermountain Indian School is housed in Logan, Utah, in Utah State University's Special Collections and Archives.

76. So far, we have located over 1,500 poems and stories published in various Intermountain publications, including multiple full independently published collections like Tinhorn's.

77. This essay is a branch of the larger interdisciplinary effort to recover and return the creative works (i.e., writing, visual art, and material art) of Intermountain Indian School students to the Navajo Nation in the form of a traveling museum exhibit and subsequent bilingual book (Diné bizaad and English). The exhibit is traveling in 2019–20 to four locations in and around the Navajo Nation, with the final exhibit at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona. The book, Returning Home: Navajo Creative Works from the Intermountain Indian School, is under contract with the University of Arizona Press.

78. Aileen Moreton-Robinson, "Introduction: Locations of Engagement in the First World," in Critical Indigenous Studies: Engagements in First World Locations (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2016), 4.

79. Daniel Heath Justice, "Go Away, Water!": Kinship Criticism and the Decolonization Imperative," in Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective, ed. Craig S. Womack, Christopher B. Teuton, Janice Acoose, Lisa Brooks, Daniel Heath Justice, and Tol Foster (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008), 148.

80. Justice, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter, 6.

81. Sophie Mayer, "'Our Leaves of Paper Will Be / Dancing Lightly': Indigenous Poetics," in Justice and Cox, Oxford Handbook, 235.

82. Gib Twyman, "Powwow — a Link to the Past: Tribal Members Dance, Drum at Heber Gathering," Deseret News, June 25, 2000,

83. Title VI refers to the American Indian Education Program, which is funded through the Elementary Secondary Education Act to support American Indian and Alaska Native K-12 students in school districts with a high concentration of Native students.

84. Quintana, interview, October 5, 2018.

85. Justice, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter, 8.

86. Tinhorn, "Getting Older," 3.

87. Ku'ualoha Ho'omanawanui, "I Ka 'Ōlelo Ke Ola, in Words Is Life: Imagining the Future of Indigenous Literature," in Justice and Cox, Oxford Handbook, 675; author's name is regularly lowercased in running text.

88. Vincent Werito, "Understanding Hózhọ́ to Achieve Critical Consciousness: A Contemporary Diné Interpretation of the Philosophical Principles of Hózhọ́," in Diné Perspectives: Revitalizing and Reclaiming Navajo Thought, ed. Lloyd L. Lee (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014), 25.

89. Justice, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter, 210.

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